If you live ANYwhere near an old manufacturing facility that no made clean up properly before it shut down, a good possibility exists that your well water may contain unwanted and potentially dangerous contaminants. For the residents in Atkinson, New Hampshire that possibility has become a definite reality.

State health and environmental experts performed testing of well water around a know 1,4 Dioxane contamination site and detected the compound in a number of wells… with that number expected to rise as more test results return from the lab.

ATKINSON – A cancer-causing water contamination in town has left many residents scared to turn on the tap.

The Department of Environmental Services has identified 12 wells contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane, four in just the past month. The contamination could affect more Atkinson residents than originally thought and to address concerns, representatives from DES and the Environmental Protection Agency held a public information session at the Atkinson Community Center last night. More than 80 people attended to learn more about what may be in their water.

Water is unsafe to drink if levels of the chemical exceed three parts per billion, according to David Bowen, hydrologist and project manager for DES. The state has found elevated levels in 12 wells and detectable quantities in 15 wells on Emery Drive and Belknap Drive, But that number will continue to rise.

Since DES began testing for it, the chemical has been found in about 70 sites in New Hampshire. 1,4 Dioxane is a stabilizer in chlorinated solvents and found in paint strippers, dyes, degreasers and varnishes, Regan said.

DES is still investigating, but the source of the contamination may have been a release of a chlorinated solvent at the Johnston and Johnston property in 1989, according to DES groundwater expert Stephen Roy. The company, which manufactured rolled aluminum, sold the property at 128 Route 111 to Windfield Alloy, a recycling company, in 2005.

“There is 1,4 Dioxane in the water below that facility,” he said.

The chemical does not degrade over time and spreads easily through groundwater. And there are considerable health risks over time, according to David Gordon, DES Health Risk Assessor.

“The EPA has classified it as a likely human carcinogen, based on studies in several animal species,” he said. “The cancer risk is one in one million, if you drink two liters of water per day. It can be toxic to the liver and kidneys.”

Drinking or cooking with the water accounts for about 90 percent of the risk, he said. But Dioxane cannot be filtered effectively with home water filtration systems, which is why DES has been supplying bottled water to residents in the area since finding the contamination. ( source )

Some pretty scary stuff right there AND it appears from this article, as well as some other research we’ve done, that most residential water filters can do NOTHING to make well, ground and drinking water contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane safe for consumption.

Still thinking this cannot happen to you? Ask the folks in Bally, Pennsylvania how THEY feel about the likelihood of an unthinkable well water contamination event happening to THEM. Oh, and by the way: The residents of Bally, Pennsylvania existed on bottled water for a period of around SEVEN YEARS before exhausting attempts at well water remediation and finally drilling a well that did not contain 1,4 Dioxane.

Moral of the story?

Do NOT think drinking water contamination can only happen to others. If you own a private well you need to get it tested regularly (experts suggest yearly) for as many potential contaminants as possible.

We’ve said it before and we will say it until we turn blue in the face… The responsibility for the quality of well water coming out of a private well falls squarely on the shoulders of the well owner!

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Personal Well Water Test Kit

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Laboratory Testing for Well Water

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